In the spring of 2000, I volunteered to perform a preliminary survey of the amphibians and reptiles at the Conservancy’s Swamp White Oak Preserve. Most of the season harbored high water levels, which make it a bit more difficult to trap certain species.
However this initial survey captured, marked, measured and released nineteen different species of amphibians and reptiles. I am quit certain that there are a number of rare species that could be found on the preserve with continued effort. Generally, several seasons of trapping and releasing are needed to obtain a complete survey.
Many frogs were abundant on the preserve indicating that predatory reptiles may fare well. Over ten species of frogs were either seen or heard, including Chorus frogs, eastern gray treefrogs and plains leopard frogs.
At the end of May we marked, measured and released turtles. Turtles are marked by notching the marginal shell with a serrated blade, this does not in anyway harm the turtle. We marked over 60 specimens — the majority male. Painted turtles were, by far, most abundant. A small number of snapping turtles were also found along with a single Blanding’s turtle and a red-eared slider.
Throughout the season we ran across many snakes. Fox snakes, one eastern hognose snake and a surprisingly small number of northern water snakes. Eastern garter snakes, on the other hand were not hard to find, just about everyday we encountered one. On one occasion we saw two brown snakes and one ribbon snake foraging along the edge of a creek.
In my search for amphibians, I found an abundant number of leeches, water beetles and in one pool a catfish. We trapped a two-foot northern pike, some sunfish and dogfish as well. Considering this is the first field season and keeping in mind the high rainfall, we were successful in identifying many common species along with a few surprises. Future surveys will certainly lead to more intriguing finds.March 09, 2011